It’s Time for a Modern Communications Infrastructure

A modern communications infrastructure would be a huge benefit to our economy--by creating and sustaining good jobs--and protect our environment by wasting less energy and water and reducing the pollution that's driving climate change.

June 16, 2015

The following blog by Kim Glas, BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director has been cross posted from the Huffington Post. The original post is available online here

It’s not just our transportation system that’s in desperate need of an upgrade. The fact is that from pipes carrying water and natural gas, to our energy grid, to our communications systems, we need action now to repair and modernize systems we rely on every day.

Old, broken down systems waste energy and water and other resources, make our communities less safe, and contribute to the pollution that’s driving climate change. But, fixing and modernizing them? That’s an opportunity to create family-sustaining jobs, make communities more secure and resilient, and give America a leg up in the ultra-competitive global economy.

Modern Communications Systems = More Efficient and Safe

Today, let’s focus on our nation’s communications systems.

For a lot of America, high-speed broadband Internet is something they just can’t get. Many rural areas of the country are stuck in technology that was great in the ’90s but pales in comparison to the offerings in large cities. And, even in those cities and suburbs, there are still a lot of folks to whom high-speed broadband isn’t affordable or nearly as fast as needed to support education, business and access to opportunity.

Bringing our communications systems up to date would also enable power companies to monitor, assess and avoid power outages and damages; help make emergency communications and disaster preparedness systems ready to protect us even in the most dire circumstances; and make other infrastructure — like water and natural gas distribution lines — more efficient by using sensors and systems to monitor them in real time and avoid leaks and failures.

A modern communications infrastructure is a resilient one. Every year, businesses and households are estimated to lose $80 to $150 billion annually from power outages alone. The smallest thing can cause the biggest consequences in our energy systems. For example, one of the largest blackouts in U.S. history in 2003 was caused by wires brushing up against tree limbs in Ohio, leaving 50 million people without power. A modern, communications-enabled smart electric grid can help avoid these crises, while at the same time enabling new forms of energy efficiency in homes and businesses and helping integrate clean and distributed energy into our electric system.